The 3 Essential Functions of Every Successful Business

What I am about to tell you is the most important thing you will ever hear about starting a business. (I have probably started more businesses than anyone I’ve ever met, so please forgive me for sounding like a know-it-all.)


To start a business — any business — successfully, you must be able to do three things:

  • Develop a product that people want to buy.
  • Figure out how to sell it at a profit.
  • Push yourself and everyone else on your start-up team to get the first two things done before you run out of money.

To make that happen, you must have three distinct personalities on your start-up team:

  • A thinker
  • A marketer
  • A pusher

The thinker’s primary job is to come up with new ideas. He must understand the psychology of the market. He must know who your typical customer is, what he likes to buy and why.

The marketer’s primary job is to understand the mechanics of sales and marketing. He must know all the details — and pay attention to them.

The pusher’s primary job is to be pushy. He must be goal-oriented and willing to take on the responsibility of making the thinker and marketer do their jobs.

In an ideal world, every new business would be launched by three people: a thinker, a marketer, and a pusher.

But in most cases, new businesses are started by one or two people. And that means one person must do the work of two or three.

You might have a good marketer who is a so-so idea man and is trying to run the business himself. Or a talented product developer who partners with a good marketer but has no one to do the day-to-day pushing. I know of one business that has neither a good marketer nor a good idea person. It gets by — barely — but only because its CEO keeps pushing inexperienced people to make mostly mediocre efforts.

Imperfectly balanced start-ups can succeed so long as all the people at the top recognize the work that needs to be done and work hard.

But don’t lose sight of the three essential jobs that need to be done and the different personalities those jobs require. Ignore them at your peril.